Chord Substitutions

Last night I was preparing for a group set and I got pretty bored with the sounds I was making. I wasn’t feeling particularly smart or creative so I reached out to the internet for some advice. I really liked these articles:

  • Chord Substitution – simple trick to keep up your sleeve, simply substitute in the minor-7 relative chord. E.g. instead of C, play Am7. It will sound good since it contains the C chord anyways.
  • Tritone Chord Substitution – another simple trick to keep up your sleeve, simply substitute in (or follow) the chord with root 1 tritone away. E.g. instead of G7, play D-flat7. Works best with dominant chords.

The tritone idea really got me excited. It has that complex coolness that you hear in gospel church vamping music that I’ve always wanted to figure out but never quite got the hang of. I initially had issue visualizing where the tritone-away chord is. The trick I learned is to see/feel where the fifth is (my hand already knows the fifth interval.. I can see it too from any note) and then grab the key directly lower (one half step lower; the tritone is a diminished 5th interval) and use that as the root.

Untraditional Classical Piano


Pianist Rudolf Budginas, Guitarist Kenny Lee Lewis, and Steve Miller Band

Found this video through my piano teacher’s facebook, I guess she knows him! What a cool performance!

If you need any help convincing a child that piano is FUN or COOL or whatever… this is a good video. Skip to the 4:40 area, the Liszt stuff is pretty flashy and the following Brubeck (5:15) is just cool and sultry – and they’ll get to hear Lewis jam a bit on the guitar.

Example of a Tight Band & Great Hammond Soloing

This is a great example to show early learners of what to strive for. Watch her sense of inner rhythm, her passion, her power. Listen to how tight the band is! And how they’re clearly listening to each other, taking turns soloing. Look at how much fun they’re having!

As soon as I saw that B3 sitting there, after the lights revealed the band, I felt apprehensive and excited. For me, there’s nothing better than a chick who can rock a solo – I’m truly inspired by this recording. And I love her brazen tambourine.

Everything about this performance felt polished but raw (or pure somehow?).